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A SPIDER-SITTER'S TALE

By: L. Azar

Recalling your babysitting days of yore may bring to mind memories of cordless phones, nosh, a sheaf of notes, and a nice, cozy couch. Though I have not babysat in years, last week I actually did. But this most recent babysitting job involved none of those memories. You see, I was in my own home, and I babysat... a spider.

Shabbat was out early and the clear the table, tidy up the house, and wash the mountain of dishes'” routine was done surprisingly fast. With a surge of energy, I decided to herald in the new week with a delicious batch of fresh-baked banana muffins. While they baked, I took the liberty of relaxing on the couch with a book. As the dessert's heavenly aroma reached my nose, I jumped up to retrieve the muffins from the oven. Really, it was a picture of total serenity. And that is when I saw a most unwelcome mass of blackness moving along on my kitchen floor. It was a giant spider - thick, black, and way too shiny.

Gut reaction: Help! There is a tarantula in my house!

Post-gut reaction: I am the only adult at home right now, and I need to get rid of this thing, and now!

But standing motionless with oven-mitted hands and gaping away is not a practical way to exorcise unwelcome spiders. I knew I had to act. Didn't I have bug spray somewhere? Oh yeah, I remembered grimly. Across the house. Do I make a dash for the pesticide and risk losing sight of my visitor? No, I decided, and thus began my spider-sitting job, presumably, until hubby's return home.

But several minutes later, he (I'm not the expert on discerning spider genders, but it seemed kind of masculine to me. On second thought, what would a feminine spider look like, anyway?) started to inch his way awfully close to the refrigerator. I realized I had to do away with Spider before I'd lose sight of him. In a matter of seconds, I was out of and back in the kitchen with a bottle of Raid. Behold, the spider's black form was still in full view. Phew! Now for the hard part (Did I mention I have an arachnophobic condition?), I gripped the green bottle tightly and sprayed those precious fumes for all I was worth. The very angry spider scampered away as if nothing was amiss, as if he were not coated in poisonous fumes. Destination? Under the refrigerator. Great.

Sadly, the story of our skeevy arachnid ends here. A real cliffhanger, is it not? We will never know if his life was cut short under that fridge on that fateful night, or whether he is alive and well, crawling up my shoulder this very moment.

But one thing I do know, and this episode reminded me well: I was meant to witness that very spider, with all its legs, exactly on that tile on my kitchen floor at the exact moment my muffins were baking (which, baruch Hashem, I remembered to pull out at some point during all this mayhem). It just wasn't by chance. I knew that Hashem was orchestrating the seemingly small details of my life as well as the big. Sometimes, we just have to have the presence of mind to remember that in the heat of the moment.

Another case in point. Last week, I needed to take care of a certain matter in the school where I work, but I simply had not a nanosecond to spare. Sure enough, the principal's announcement of early dismissal because of a school breakout reached me. I was able to use the free time to take care of my business. I sure felt the "hug" from my Father Above. It's the Spider in the Kitchen Theory: Everything, both big and small, is part of a Greater Plan.

Even a black spider on your kitchen floor.